No matter where in Memphis you end up, you’ll hear the city loud and clear from every corner. From the hallowed rooms of Elvis’ Graceland to the bars belting out blues along Beale Street, Memphis is a city that knows just how unique it is — and isn’t afraid to turn up the volume to show you. And, while Memphis has made an indelible mark on music, it isn’t always the first city you’d think to take the whole family. Toddlers might not appreciate seeing where Elvis first cut a record or digging into a plate of Memphis-style barbecue, but the city still has lots to offer families that can fill up an entire itinerary.
And best of all, this list of things to do in Memphis with kids won’t cost you a dime.
Burn Off Some Energy at Shelby Farms Park
Whether you had to book flights to Memphis that were breathtakingly brief or super long, your kids will most likely need somewhere to run around and burn off some energy at the start of your trip. Memphis will happily oblige with Shelby Farms Park. Set up in East Memphis, it’s one of the largest urban parks in the United States, spanning 4,500 acres. While there are many paid activities you can partake in at the park, it’s free to roam its open spaces, climb around the Woodland Discovery Playground or splash about at the Water Play Sprayground. Shelby Farms Park is also home to 40 miles of trails and over 20 bodies of water. The park even claims a herd of buffalo.
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Watch the Waddle of the Peabody Ducks at the Peabody Hotel
Kids of all ages – and even adults too — will appreciate this quirky Memphis freebie. Every day at 11 am and 5 pm, you can witness 5 North American mallards march — or rather waddle — through the lobby of the Peabody Hotel, a Memphis icon founded in 1869. The ducks head from the hotel’s fountain by way of a red carpet to strut for an audience lining the way. When the ducks aren’t making their grand procession, they live on the rooftop of the Peabody Hotel in a marble and glass structure complete with a fountain and a small replica of the hotel. A tradition since the 1930s, the Peabody Duck March is free to watch.
Peruse All the Odds and Ends at A. Schwab’s
While you might not think Beale Street has much for kids, Memphis surprises with A. Schwab, the only original business remaining on the iconic street. Opened in 1876 by Abraham Schwab, the shop boasts all sorts of odds and ends, such as regional arts and crafts, dry goods, books, candies, and toys. You can also pick up items from famous Memphis brands. A trip to A. Schwab offers a fun piece of the city’s history that the whole family can appreciate. There’s also an old-timey soda fountain if you want to shell out for a milkshake while you’re there.
Marvel at the Mighty Mississippi on Mud Island
Mud Island, a small peninsula of land jutting into the Mississippi River, has a treasure trove of attractions. The island is home to a museum that details the Mississippi River, has a concert venue, and also offers some free fun too. Mud Island Park proudly displays the Riverwalk, a concrete model of the lower Mississippi River. The model is set up in a way that you can walk along with it, showing everyone from toddlers to teens the river passing through 20 cities. The model alone spans 5 city blocks and makes for a mighty Mississippi-type play space for kids.
Have a free, family-friendly attraction in Memphis to add to the list? Share it with us in the comments below!